Monthly Archives: May 2015

a postcard

“The outside world is too small, too clear-cut, too truthful, to contain everything that a person has room for inside.”

-Franz Kafka


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The most common research paper errors…

Research Paper Errors Essay

Intro/Thesis: This blog post will prove (using strong diction to grab the reader’s attention and satirical overtones) that the most important error that high school students throughout the world make throughout their papers is not redundancy, overgeneralizing claims so that they couldn’t possibly support them, or even inserting convoluted and superfluous clauses which cause the reader to lose track of the meaning of the sentence, but misusing quotations from academic sources. My first body paragraph will explain the mistake. The rest is just filler to fulfill the length requirement.

Body 1: Universally praised polymath genius Stan D. Ingoverall, in his critically acclaimed “Most Important Essay Ever” writes, “Students constantly quote claims from trustworthy sources as support for their own claims. This is a problem because you cannot support a claim with another claim. In the academic world, we call that “begging the question.” Just like all dogs go to heaven, all claims need support. Rather than citing the author’s strongest articulations of their central thesis, it is more useful for students to look at how these scholars support their claims.”

Body 2: Stan goes on to say, “Other obvious and unforgivable mistakes include using puffed up authoritative-sounding, incendiary language such as ‘obvious and unforgivable,’ being self-referential, using inappropriate colloquialisms (e.g. ‘he goes on to say’), calling an author by their first name, and using an extended quotation to make the case because ‘that particular author says it perfectly, so why should I bother crafting what would surely, by contrast, come across as clumsy paraphrase?'”.

Body 3: Stan closes, noting one last mistake: “Sometimes these cretins neophytes…(ellipsis that completely alters the meaning of the quote to suit my current needs) don’t even give page numbers in their citations!” (Ingoverall).

Conclusion: Bland recap of everything I just said, adding no new insight. I just wrote this because you have to have a conclusion. Don’t you? 3 sentence minimum for a paragraph reached. Phew! I love formulas.

Works Cited:

        Ingoverall, Stan. “Most Important Essay Ever.” This is Satire, Please Don’t Get Upset, It is an Entertaining Way to Warn You About Embarrassing Academic Errors So that You Avoid Them In the Future.  N.p. N.d.

        Klein, Christopher. “The most common research paper errors…” A Heartbreaking Blog of Staggering Genius. N.p. N.d.

        Lee, Serious. “None of you make all these mistakes, but almost all of you have made one at some time or another. Don’t get huffy, it happens to the best of us.” Doesn’t it Look Bad in Print? N.p. N.d.

        Rinarush, You. “It’s understandable.” Time Management for the Hoi Polloi. N.p. N. d.

Editor’s Note:

I didn’t cite the last three sources. I didn’t even have the time to read them, though I did think about it. I know they shouldn’t even be there if I didn’t actually cite or paraphrase them, but I needed to beef up the Works Cited. I mean, you didn’t think I would leave it as a “Work Cited”? Come on now.

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Don’t look so puzzled…

Did you know that Puzzlepalooza was an optional field trip? Among other things, this means that you were responsible for getting your Huck Finn paper in on time, as it was assigned with due dates over a month ago.

You are also responsible for what you missed in class:

1) Getting a copy of Macbeth.

2) Getting the assignment to read it (It should take you between 1-2 hrs to read).

Please understand that the correct reading of this post entails a tone of urgency. By that I mean, we really need to get one last summative assessment in the books in order to meet the course requirement. Don’t sigh so loudly. It is going to be brief. And it is going to be done in class, so that I can spare you the anxiety of sitting in front of your computer screens through the wee hours of the night.

I will give you the details next class. But for now, you should:


read Macbeth in its entirety: here’s a link to an online copy


read the sparknotes: Yeah, I said it. The assessment will entail a close reading of a single scene or soliloquy, so this is ok.

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No Rime or reason?

Why do you think the Ancient Mariner kills the Albatross?

Admittedly, there’s not much to go on in the text, which might seem to call for wild speculation. But I think we can do better. Many critics have observed that Coleridge wrote “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” to channel the primitive depth of epic poetry or biblical parable, albeit with a strong British flavor. This is not a controversial observation considering that the poem, at its core, is a narrative of guilt and redemption (among other things). So, continuing along these lines we are invited to read the killing of the Albatross as sin, our original question as an inquiry into the nature of transgression. But this is trickier than it seems. Though we can often explain particular wrongs (e.g. I struck him because he struck me), we have a much tougher time getting at the root of evil (i.e. why did he strike me unprovoked?).

Some of the explanations that we raised in class might be useful: vengeance, superstition, iconoclasm, impulse. But I’m not so sure that any of those provide a satisying answer to our primal question. The very form of Coleridge’s poem (parablistic rhyming verse with marginal glosses, evoking scripture complete with textual interpretation) suggests that there is some wisdom to be gained upon reflection. The Mariner’s sin is “forgiven” when he recognizes the sacred in the most base of creatures (the sea snakes), but his guilt continually reoccurs like a rising tide. The only solution is a periodic revisiting of the original tale, a simultaneous myth-making and exegesis. But what do we learn from such a retelling? Is the Mariner, in forcing his tale upon the Wedding-Guest (i.e. presuming his own absolution and transcendence through an implicit claim to metaphysical insight) simultaneously re-committing and clarifying the nature of his crime?

Continue here to read Karl Ove Knausgaard’s rumination on Anders Behring Breivik’s 2011 mass killing in Norway. I think Knausgaard’s attempt to make some sense of these senseless murders offers a salient perspective on what generates such malevolence, and is highly applicable to our discussion of the Coleridge poem.

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Hon 10

Rhetorical Analyses now due Friday, 5/22.

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Summer Reading

Entering AP Lang next year? Here’s your updated reading list. You must read two and there’s an assignment that I’ll post as well.

Black Elk Speaks
by John G. Neihardt and Nicholas Black Elk
Slouching Towards Bethlehem
by Joan Didion
A Fine Balance
by Rohinton Mistry
by Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
by Robert Pirsig
*The Color of Water
by James McBride
*An American Childhood
by Annie Dillard
*The Glass Castle
by Jeannette Walls
*The Woman Warrior
by Maxine Hong Kingston
*Autobiography of Malcolm X
by Alex Haley

*indicates that we have this title in the English Dept. book room and that you can borrow a copy for the summer.

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Baltimore Reflections

If you are working on one of these described in the last post, SilverChips submissions are due on Friday, May 15

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